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When can Indiana police officers demand breath tests?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2024 | Dui And Traffic Violations

Getting arrested for drunk driving in Indiana can lead to a host of consequences. Operating while intoxicated (OWI) charges can be misdemeanor or felony offenses in different circumstances. Judges can sentence people to jail time, order them to pay large fines and suspend their driver’s licenses. Developing a strong case against someone accused of impaired driving typically involves gathering certain types of evidence. Prosecutors only bring charges in cases where they have enough evidence to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Indiana police officers capture video footage of people driving poorly with their dashboard cameras. Body cameras may capture footage of someone admitting to drinking before getting behind the wheel or slurring their speech. Footage of field sobriety tests can also help build the state’s case against someone. However, chemical breath tests are often the cornerstone of impaired driving charges in Indiana. When can police officers demand that people perform chemical breath tests?

When they have grounds to arrest them

Every driver in Indiana has already consented to chemical testing in certain circumstances. The implied consent law empowers police officers to perform breath tests when they have probable cause to suspect that someone is under the influence of alcohol. In other words, police officers can require that someone perform a breath test when they already have reason to arrest that person for an OWI offense. If an officer casually requests a breath test during a traffic stop for other reasons, drivers can potentially decline the test. However, refusing a breath test after an OWI arrest is potentially grounds for secondary charges and additional penalties.

When a crash occurs

Police officers responding to the scene of a collision often request chemical testing from the people involved in a serious crash. Involvement in a wreck that causes serious injury or death often leads to chemical testing.

Although police officers cannot force drivers to perform breath tests, there can be additional licensing consequences when people refuse a test requested if an officer has the necessary probable cause to request the test. Learning more about Indiana’s traffic laws may benefit those who regularly enjoy a few drinks before driving or who have been recently arrested based on allegations of chemical impairment and are, therefore, in need of a strong criminal defense strategy.